A Sense of Prague: HC Student’s Summer Study Abroad

When Kyra Crabtree left Kansas City to study in the Czech Republic this summer, she knew she wanted to do everything possible to remember her adventures abroad. Inspired by a class experience at UMKC, she decided to keep a “senses journal” in which she would daily record something she saw, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted. As Kyra notes: “It wasn’t just about what cool things I saw, but what I absorbed from everything around me. My experiences overwhelmed me and excited my soul in ways that I didn’t expect to feel.”

The sounds of the Czech Republic were “just beyond our classroom window, drawing us to the outside world” and, even though there were many different tourists speaking many different languages, Kyra noted that they could all go to a ballet or an opera and understand the story. Smells from the Prague streets varied from “trashcans overflowing with stale bread for pigeons” to “rose gardens, parks, and flower shops that perfumed the air” and made her wish she was better at gardening. On every street corner there was the smell of hot food and Kyra kept a record of dishes she tried: sachertorte, currywurst, schnitzel, and shawarma.

Kyra admits that she never imagined that she would study in the Czech Republic:
“But during my time there I allowed myself to be completely immersed in their culture. I saw towering cliffsides, heard classical opera, walked on ancient roads, smelled roses in palace gardens, and ate like a local. This wasn’t a vacation, where I would sit on a beach and do nothing. It also wasn’t a field trip, where a teacher would hold my hand through everything. This was nothing short of an experience, one that has shaped me and the way I view myself and the world. I am thrilled that I chose to study abroad and would visit Prague again if given the chance.”




Show Your Support–Join HC Friends!

The Honors College Friends (HCF) will work with Honors College Faculty and Staff to create a welcoming and supportive place for perpetually curious students.  The purpose of HCF is to create and nurture meaningful relationships between students, faculty, parents, family, staff, UMKC administrators, alumni, and others.  Honors College Friends will support HC students financially through dues and fundraisers, helping promote community through not only local social events but also field trips to conferences and educational experiences beyond our campus.

If you are an Honors College alumni or are connected in any way to a current Honors College student or just want to see the UMKC Honors College continue to grow and serve more students, you can help!

  • Become a member of HCF ($30/semester or $50/year)
  • Sign up for our email list to get the Honors College Herald published quarterly online.
  • Volunteer to serve on the HCF Board.
  • Follow us on social media.
  • Other ideas?  Let us know!


Honors College Roos are Everywhere

Shiona Deliozar explored Fiji, New Zealand, and…Middle Earth?

Caroline Moriarty visited Amman, Jordan, where she studied Arabic and Jordanian colloquialisms.


Katelyn McAlister studied abroad in the UK and met with several large British businesses.


Cemile Arabaci spent her summer conducting dark matter annihilation analysis research at Arizona State University.


Sam Simmons reconnected with nature in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

New HC Mentoring Program Supports Incoming Students

Whether you are a first-year or a transfer student, the transition to a new college environment can be overwhelming. Starting this fall, an innovative Honors College program will offer support to incoming students by teaming up Older, Wiser Learners (OWLs) with first-year and transfer students (Joeys) new to the UMKC Honors College.  Being an OWL is an opportunity for current HC sophomores and juniors to build lasting relationships with younger HC students. Each OWL will mentor a “mob” of three to seven Joeys, helping the Joeys feel welcomed and integrated into the campus community. OWLs were in touch with their assigned students by email during the summer and greeted them in person at the Honors College BBQ in August. OWLs will meet with their Joeys individually before midterms and finals, attend group events during the fall, and continue the mentor relationship in the spring term.

Thirty Honors College students volunteered for this new program and attended training last spring. Mentorship basics included OWL expectations and Code of Conduct, as well as a review of information about the Honors College and available campus resources for students. OWLs learned about best practices for guiding new students through common issues they might face on campus. They also learned what to do if they find they need guidance helping a Joey with a problem or if they were concerned about the safety of their Joey.

OWLs are enthusiastic about this new Honors College venture:

“I’m excited about being an OWL Mentor because as a freshman student I would not have succeeded if it were not for my more ‘social’ friends. As a commuter student, I didn’t stay on campus much. Having someone closer to you as a mentor/guide (rather than SIs and faculty) who has been through the journey reinforces strategies to tackle life and college. I hope to be that person for others because I was completely lost my first semester and was not aware of the bountiful resources for success.”

Johnson Poon
B.S. Biology | Pre-Medicine | Chemistry Minor
Biomedical Sciences Emphasis

What’s next in building support for student success? The Honors College is looking for recent HC graduates who will volunteer to become Graduation Guides, mentoring our seniors as they negotiate job hunting, applying for grad school, and getting ready for next steps after graduation. Interested applicants should contact HC student advisor Margo Gamache (gamachem@umkc.edu).



Annie Crawford Presents at a National Conference

Honors College senior Annie Crawford’s research on Angelica Schuyler Church, who corresponded with some of the most famous figures of the early United States, reflects her passion for women’s rhetoric. To date, the most memorable experience of her study was presenting her work at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in March in Kansas City. The annual conference is the largest gathering of college teachers of writing and communication in the United States.

“It felt like going to the big leagues. I was surrounded by people whose scholarship I had read in my classes. I got advice about where to go with my project and where to go to graduate school. A few people gave me their cards and told me to look into their programs,” says Annie, who is an English major and is considering going to graduate school to become an English professor.

Annie began the project in Dr. Jane Greer’s class on women and rhetoric at UMKC. Intrigued by Schuyler Church’s character in the musical, Hamilton, which she saw in New York City in March 2016, Annie studied Schuyler Church’s letters to Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. With financial support from the UMKC English Department, Annie attended the Naylor Workshop for Undergraduate Research in Writing Studies at York College of Pennsylvania and decided to expand her work into a senior honors thesis and a capstone project for her major. Guided by Dr. Greer as her faculty mentor, Annie received a SUROP grant to travel to Albany, New York, and tour Schuyler Church’s childhood home.

“I began to understand that women are remembered in unique ways in different places,” says Annie. “To remember them today, we have to shift the spotlight to their stories.”

As the former editor of Lucerna, the interdisciplinary undergraduate research journal published annually by the Honors College, Annie recognizes the many benefits of undergraduate research. “Working on a research project with my faculty mentor helped me develop my writing and presentation skills. It involved a lot of hard work, but I have no doubt it’s made me a better scholar.”

Party at the BeeHouse on June 23!

Join Honors College alumna Serena Baker at the grand opening of BeeHouse at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at 208 W. 19th St. Serena and her business partner, UMKC student Kris Mahan, will co-host the event at their new “fashion makerspace” in the Crossroads Art District near downtown Kansas City. Collaborating with Kris, Serena planned and launched BeeHouse during her senior year in the Honors College at UMKC. Admittance to the event costs $30; for more information and tickets, go to https://www.beehouse-kc.com/events/grand-opening

The Wonderful Dr. E

Dr. Laurie Ellinghausen, who has been active in the Honors College since 2014, has been promoted to professor in the English Department and recently published her third book, Pirates, Traitors, and Apostates: Renegade Identities in Early Modern English Writing (University of Toronto Press).

“This project represents a new direction for my career-long interest in labor, class, and social change in Shakespeare’s England,” Dr. Ellinghausen said. “Whereas my first book examined troublemakers within England, this one treats renegades—pirates, mercenaries, and ambitious upstarts—who traveled outside England to gain wealth, adventure, and esteem not available to them at home due to class-based social restrictions. Reading and writing about the lives of such figures took me to some new and fascinating territory.”

A scholar of Renaissance/early modern English literature and culture, Dr. Ellinghausen said that she always has loved books, classes, and new ideas. “But my undergraduate years at the University of Houston, where I was an English major and an honors student, really helped me decide to make education into my career. I had great professors there and great models for teaching and scholarship that I still call on today.”

Dr. Ellinghausen, also known as “Dr. E.,” has been an advisor to the Honors College Living-Learning Community at Oak Street Hall and to Lucerna, the undergraduate research journal that is produced by the Honors College. Dr. Ellinghausen also co-led the first Honors College Scotland Study Abroad Program in July 2017. Collaborating with Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood, Associate Teaching Professor in the Honors College, Dr. Ellinghausen co-taught an Anchor 3 class about the literature and history of Scotland, and a Discourse 300 class that asked students to interview Scots about important contemporary issues.

Looking back on Scotland, Dr. Ellinghausen observed: “This study-abroad experience, a first for both Dr. Wood and me, turned out to be quite the adventure. We explored Edinburgh, the Lowlands, and the Highlands with fifteen bright, high-achieving students who really made the most of the opportunity.  I hope we have the opportunity to do it again one day.”

The author of two other academic books and numerous articles, Dr. Ellinghausen grew up in Texas and earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an advocate of public universities and noted that “for some time now, the biggest challenge to education in this region has been lack of adequate state funding for instruction. I believe that continuing to educate the public about the enduring value of public education—which includes everything from STEM to the liberal arts—is key to changing legislative priorities.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Ellinghausen already is at work on a new book, Literature and the Seaman’s Labor in Early Modern England. “It’s a study of how literary texts represented the common sailor during the formative years of Britain’s maritime empire. I’d like to integrate more of these materials into my courses as well. Apart from those plans, I’m open to whatever new opportunities might arise for scholarship, teaching, and serving students,” she said.


Fueled By a Passion for Education

Kauffman School Founder and CEO Will Receive UMKC Bill French Alumni Service Award

Hannah Lofthus’ (B.A. ’07) service to the University of Missouri-Kansas City began while she was an undergraduate student and member of the UMKC Honors College; she co-founded the College’s service-learning program and established a partnership with a local charter school to provide opportunities for Honors students to serve the community. Lofthus said it was through that partnership that she began working at a local school and fell in love with the children she was serving. That partnership still exists today at the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, founded by Lofthus in 2010, where 180 UMKC students have volunteered since the school’s inception.

In 2017, Kauffman School was named a “School to Learn From” by Teach For America. Lofthus was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Accelerate Institute’s Ryan Award for transformational school leadership in 2016.

Lofthus continues her involvement with UMKC as a frequent speaker to students and prospective students on campus. She recently sat down to share what fuels her passion for service and education.

Your undergraduate degree at UMKC was in philosophy and political science. When did you realize you wanted to work in education?

You could say I was destined to be an educator—my parents were both teachers and school counselors, and my father was also a school principal. My parents always believed that an education could change a child’s life. Growing up, I watched firsthand how they dedicated their lives to serving others in their community and working to empower kids with an excellent education. That certainly shapes how I view service and commitment to my community.

How did developing the Honors College program and partnerships at UMKC help prepare you for your role as founding principal at the Ewing Marion Kauffman School?

Being one of the founders of the Honors College program opened my mind to what it was like to be an entrepreneur and build something. Designing something from a blank sheet of paper is incredibly challenging but also rewarding, and after doing that with the Honors College it sparked my desire to have that type of influence and impact in other ways.

What makes your school so successful? Is it a model that can be replicated, in KC and elsewhere around the country?

We’ve intentionally built the Kauffman School so that others can replicate what we do! All parts of our model and structure have been shaped in many ways by learnings that we’ve had from studying other models. We’ve shared our learnings across the community and country because we believe that we can share our lessons learned so that as many students as possible can benefit from our work. Our school is successful because of the combined effort of our dedicated students, families and staff who work together on a daily basis to understand where our students are, what they need to be successful and work tirelessly to get them what they need to achieve.

What advice do you have for those who’d like to follow in your footsteps?

Find out what problem in the world you are passionate about solving and pursue solving that problem with everything you have — all of your energy, passion and resources. I give that advice to my students. The world deserves and needs each one of us to dedicate ourselves to solving problems we’re passionate about so we can leave the world better than how we found it for those who will come after us.  When people see your passion and that you have a strong plan, so many of them are willing to believe in you, mentor you, and take a chance on you.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor Lofthus and other outstanding alumni at the 2018 Alumni Awards event Friday, June 15, on campus. The reception is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. In the last decade, the Alumni Awards event has garnered more than $1 million in scholarships and immediate aid for students.

Victoria Davidson Heads to Vienna!

Victoria Davidson 

Honors College junior Victoria Davidson dreamed of a diplomatic career, and she is on her way to achieving that dream! A double major in History and Foreign Languages and Literature with an emphasis in German, Victoria will move to Europe this fall to work as a student intern for the US Embassy in Vienna.
To win this job, Victoria competed against other applicants to the US Department of State Student Internship Program, which enables aspiring diplomats to get an inside look at the field and take an active role in diplomacy. This program places students in State Department offices in Washington, D.C., as well as US embassies around the world.
“This is absolutely the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am beyond excited to start this journey into diplomacy,” Victoria said. “I’ll be working with the combined Political/Economic Unit at the Embassy, which will give me the chance to learn and be challenged every day. I will take notes at meetings, analyze this information, and then create reports that will be sent to State Department offices in Washington. I will get to dig deep into topics that interest me and develop my own projects. I would like to research the cultural and political history of Austria, looking at the country’s ties to Germany and other German-speaking nations.” 
Victoria prepared for this amazing opportunity by working as an intern at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence and by participating in the Honors College Scotland Study Abroad Program in July 2017. She has good advice for other Honors College students who are interested in finding internships outside the US: “It’s definitely a long process, and even now, after I’ve accepted the position, there’s still a lot to be worked out. Once I get security clearance and a visa, everything will be 100% official and things will start to take shape. So keep with it! The process may seem harrowing, but there is so much to be learned from experiences like this.”